As well as delivering clinical care in the hospice, in patients’ homes and in the community, hospices also provide other support, such as counselling, physiotherapy, complementary therapies and nutrition and lifestyle advice.
A healthy and balanced approach to mind and body is part of the ethos of hospice care. Di Laverty, Nurse Consultant at St Joseph’s Hospice in east London, explains how this holistic approach helps people with a terminal diagnosis to live well for the precious time they have left.
“Hospice care supports a healthy and balanced approach to mind and body, helping people with life-limiting conditions to live as well as they can and making every moment” she said.
“The diagnosis of a life-threatening illness is not the end. We are here to help people to learn to live again through a rehabilitative approach to their palliative care.
“At St Joseph’s Hospice we focus on people as individuals, which means we take time to get to know our patients and pay attention to the little things that mean a lot to them and their families. Often, as people approach the end of their lives, and the uncertainty, confusion and change that the end of life brings with it, familiar things mean a lot to them. If someone wants to watch a particular film that they love, we will find it for them.
“Other people might want to try something new, or realise an ambition they never had time to fulfil – we will do our very best to help them achieve it. Our Empowered Living Team provides nutrition advice and practical support to help people achieve their goals, however big or small. Sometimes just being able to dress themselves or brush their teeth is all that people want. It’s an amazing feeling of achievement when it happens.
“But most importantly, we give them time. If they want to have a luxurious bath with bubbles and oils, we’ll take the hour it takes to bathe them - sometimes human touch is all that is needed.
“If they and their families need extra time to discuss the details of their treatment, we make it available.
"For many, the most valuable time we can give them is time spent with family and friends, reminiscing, laughing or just sitting peacefully together enjoying each other’s company. In a situation which can feel out of control, we do our best to empower our patients, to put control back into their hands.”